Sunday, 11 September 2011

Wormholt Park Centenary: Report

A success by anyone's standards, the park was filled yesterday by people who in many cases were venturing into the park for the first time with the intention of staying there rather than walking through or past it. It is a park, as one of the Friends of Wormholt Park said to me, that hasn't had a great deal of care lavished on it in recent years. Yesterday showed just what could be achieved by a hugely dedicated band of volunteers who wanted to turn the green space into something special.

Setting up the history corner
Themed on 1911, this was after all the year the park opened its doors, there were volunteers in Edwardian dress while others charted the history of the park in less fancy dress but no less fancy facts, figures and photos as some of these images of the Bush from days gone by show.

Shepherd's Bush Road - 1905 (mind that sheep)
And there was the Bush of today, with the local police cadets running a free (yes, free!) bouncy castle for the kids. And on the subject of bouncy castles, of which I am something of an expert, I have to say I have never seen such a well behaved bunch of kids using one, which I am sure had nothing to do with the burly policeman sitting just outside.

Shepherd's Bush Green c1900
Local businesses did a brisk trade, including new start ups Queen of Hearts Cupcakes and old favourites the Queen Adelaide pub. Even the Army careers office put in an appearance, but they didn't seem to have a very long queue of ready recruits.

And what about the West London Choir, who you can see in the vid above. Conducted by a woman who seemed to have more energy than a child who'd overdosed on fizzy drinks, she cajoled and chivvied up the choir members into belting out a few old favourites with much gusto.

Queen Adelaide Pub c1900
I would estimate that there were at least 500 people in the park at the time I left, and that was only a couple of hours after it had opened, with more streaming through the doors as the sun came out properly. They had a good few hours under the sun before it turned a bit manky weather-wise but the important point for me was the number of conversations between people I saw and heard who in most cases lived streets or even doors away but had never properly spoken to each other - London life writ large. That's why events like this, and the work that the Friends of Wormholt Park have done and plan on carrying on - more of that later - is so important.

Oaklands Congregational Church, cnr of Uxbridge Rd and Oaklands Grove c1900
Edwardian hats off to them - and happy birthday Wormholt Park.

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